This section is from the "Practical Banking" book, by Albert S. Bolles.
The illustration presented under the title "Depositors' Balance Ledger" represents a portion of a page of a book extensively used by the large banking institutions of New York, and in some other cities. Practically speaking, it is a skeleton ledger, kept for the convenience of the paying teller. During banking hours it is never far from his counter, and the standing of any depositor's account can be ascertained in a few seconds at any time. This book has no connection with the depositors' ledger kept by the individual bookkeeper.
In the Boston method the daily balance book is the only ledger used for keeping the depositors' accounts. Thus, it will be seen that the two books have a widely different purpose. In many banks where the balance ledger is used the regular accounts of the depositors are kept by the individual bookkeeper, or bookkeepers (for there may be several of them), in ledgers of the usual form.
A complete explanation of the skeleton ledger is difficult in a small treatise which will not permit the introduction of ruled forms showing different colored inks. A page about eighteen inches square rill give space for thirty accounts six days. The two pages of such a book will serve thirty accounts thirteen days. Two writings of an account will thus carry it through a month. The lines upon which the names are written are about five-eighths of an inch apart, and they alternate in color, first blue and then red. The change of color serves to guide the eye correctly across the page, or the two pages. For each day there is a pair of columns, the first, or left-hand column, being for debits or checks, and the second, or right-hand column, for credits or deposits; the balances are carried forward in pencil.
Depositor's Balance Ledger.—Form 5.
|N. Y. Tribune Ass'n.
18400 1o 1415 60
1540 835 15
19259 20 1410
18194 05 1840
250 1840 50
270 50 650
350 70 10
580 50 250
The calculation in carrying the balances forward is done mentally. It would be surprising to one not exert in this work to observe the rapidity with which the bookkeeper performs these mental calculations. With three amounts on one side and two on the other, the items ranging in value from the units column to several thousand, the calculation is performed men-Lily, the balance struck without a moment's hesitation, and placed in its proper column for the next day. For example, the following represents a day's transactions:
Debit. 7.462 25 35 60 379 84
Credit. 12,620 39
The balance, 5,027.30, is dotted down with surprising rapidity. In footing the columns the pencil figures only are taken to get the total balances. The amounts in ink, when footed, show total drafts and total deposits for the day.
The plan followed by which the entries find their way from the tellers' counters and the exchanges, to the depositors' ledger and balance book, varies in different banks. The volume of business has much to do with the system in use. It is well worth the space here to give a description of the plan in vogue in the National Park Bank. This bank is a representative institution with over ten thousand active accounts on its depositors' ledgers. There are two receiving tellers. A depositor presents his book with deposit enclosed. If currency or specie form a part, it is counted and dropped into the till or money drawer. The checks and other items are not carefully examined. If the currency and coin are correct, the amount according to the deposit slip is entered in the pass-book. The deposit slip, the checks, drafts, or other items are kept together until a checking clerk takes them away. These items of the deposit slip are then carefully examined and rechecked upon the deposit slip. If an error is discovered the correction is made upon the slip. The checks, drafts, etc., are now classified and passed over to other clerks. Some go to clerks who enter them up ready for passing through the Clearing-house. Others must be sent out for collection by the bank's messenger. The checks of the bank's own depositors and correspondents go to clerks who enter them up preparatory for the bookkeepers. This is followed up so closely that, at the hour for closing the receiving teller's window, every check, draft and other item of the day has been charged up at the checking counter. The items in the balance ledgers are taken from the books kept up by the checking clerks, and the individual bookkeepers also make up their ledgers from the books kept on the checking counter.
There are four sources from which the balance ledger book-keepers obtain the items of debits to the accounts in their charge. These are—first, through the Clearing-house; second, through the paying teller's department; third, from the receiving teller's department; and, fourth, through the note teller's department. They have been classified and entered up at the checking counter, so that he has only to write down the totals. There are some institutions having accounts with the Park Bank which draw as many as forty checks in a day; many draw twenty to thirty. This will explain why a method like that described in connection with the Boston daily balance book would not be practicable in all places.
In this bank the accounts of depositors or dealers are divided into four classes, and are kept by eight individual bookkeepers four of whom are on depositors' ledgers and four on the balance ledgers, thus:
Names from A to D,
E to K,
L to R,
S to Z.
The accounts of correspondents or other banks are arranged under two divisions: A to L,
M to Z.
Thus twelve individual bookkeepers are employed, eight on depositors' accounts, and four on accounts of other banks. The balance books are extended before the hour for opening next morning, and the footings made so as to compare with the general ledger before the close of the next day.